THE public relations battle has begun, with the Progressive Reform for South Gippsland Facebook group taking to social media to defend the reputation of local councillors.
The group, which is headed by South Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr Don Hill and Cr Andrew McEwen, posted on Monday, April 8 that councillors were working through the report from Municipal Monitor Peter Stephenson and were coming up “with a plan to respond”.
“Councillors have been averaging a couple of hours sleep each night-it is a difficult thing to deal with when good people are falsely accused, as this Council has been, and although we know people in the community who understand what has happened support us in this time of difficulty it is still hard,” the post read.
“This next week will need us to begin the long road ahead to put together the response to the ministers (sic) request. I have spent many hours in the last few days reading up reports from councils that were sacked and those Councils that were not.
“When people see our response and the monitors report a comparison with those other Council’s (sic) reports will be more than a little interesting. Do we have investigative journalists nowadays anymore? There is no comparison. Questions should be asked. The questions raised by those wanting this Council gone of late will be answered and intelligent individuals will wonder why this happened. How could these events have happened in a democracy such as ours?”
Meanwhile, a letter to the editor from Cr Hill’s wife, Barbara, has defended the Mayor’s reputation, saying, “In all this time I watched as my husband would work late into the night on research and proposals often in collaboration with Cr McEwen and then see those ideas dismissed out of hand by the majority block when he tried to present them.
“They never gave up. Despite working full time teaching and running a 250-acre farm he managed to visit ratepayers and assist them in their concerns as well as do all that late night work preparing proposals to give to the councillor group,” the letter said.
“Disruption increased after Cr Hill was elected as Mayor as an attempt was made to campaign against the elected Council using anything except a discussion on policies. Rumours and false statements were run in the press against individual Councillors and Council in general. Although this had been occurring over the time since the election it began to get more aggressive. “These last few months have been tough on all the remaining councillors. Being accused of unsubstantiated nasty untruthful behaviours is hard to hear when they are standing up to give their time and efforts to improve the outcomes for the Shire. It seems to me as well that what they have been accused of is exactly how the others have been behaving themselves over the years.”